Foreigner: A Journey Through Time and Hits

By bonneville on July 11, 2023
silhouette of Kelly Hansen performing with mic in hand and gray clouds behind him
FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 14: Kelly Hansen of Foreigner performs before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 14, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Foreigner is embarking on their final tour and will play in West Valley for the last time ever this August at our annual Arrowfest. Before you prepare for the show, explore the band’s iconic moments, highlighting their ever-changing lineup, top hits, and impact on classic rock. 

Arrowfest 2023

Foreigner’s Power Ballads: A Melodic Journey

Foreigner can create memorable power ballads, charting with emotional hits like “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” Other hits are enduring in their popularity, from “Cold as Ice,” “Juke Box Hero,” and “Feels Like the First Time” still making their way into soundtracks and radio stations. 

Their memorable melodies, soaring vocals, and relatable lyrics have made Foreigner a staple in the classic rock scene. Their greatest hits have an irresistible charm that has garnered fans from around the globe, from Europe to Asia and the UK. Whether it’s the raw energy of their rockers or the tender vulnerability of their ballads, Foreigner’s music has a magical ability to transport listeners across generations, igniting a sense of nostalgia while simultaneously resonating with new audiences, ensuring their enduring popularity and worldwide impact.

The band has released nine studio albums since their eponymous debut in March 1977. Their releases have seen commercial and popular success worldwide, making the charts in Canada, Australia, Norway, the UK, and more. They’ve also embarked on over 40 world tours, including two residencies in Las Vegas and several anniversary tours. 

The Evolution of Foreigner’s Lineup

Foreigner’s original lineup started in the late ’70s with lead vocalist Lou Gramm, lead guitarist and keyboardist and vocalist Mick Jones, rhythm guitarist and woodwind player Ian McDonald, bassist Ed Gagliardi, drummer Dennis Elliott, and keyboardist Al Greenwood. They dubbed the band “Foreigner” because no matter where they played, half of the band would be a foreigner there. Jones, McDonald, and Elliott were English, and Gramm, Greenwood, and Gagliardi were American. 

Since then, several changes to the lineup have unfolded. First, Rick Wills replaced Gagliardi on bass for their second release in 1979. He left the band in 1991 along with drummer Elliott. Lou Gramm has gone back and forth between performing with Foreigner and producing his own records as a solo act, leaving in both 1990 and again in 2003. He returned to record and tour with the band in 1992 and 2009, respectively. 

In September of 1980, the band saw a significant change in lineup after the band sacked co-founders Al Greenwood and Ian McDonald. Jones and Gramm wanted to take the lead in the band’s direction and stripped the band down to four members. 

The following year, the group added Peter Reilich, Bob Mayo, and Mark Rivera to support their tour promoting “4”. They soon dropped Reilich in 1982, but Mayo and Rivera stayed with the group until 1988. 

Johnny Edwards debuted as the new lead singer of the band in 1990, where he was joined by Jones, Elliott, and Wills, along with special guests Terry Thomas on guitar and Eddie Mack on harmonica. In 2002, the band saw former Heart drummer Denny Carmassi support them in their 25th Anniversary Tour. 

In 2005, Kelly Hansen became the new lead singer, debuting on March 11. Then in 2007, keyboardist Jeff Jacobs left the band after 16 years. In 2008, Bonham left as the drummer, and Bryan Head replaced him for a short tenure. 

Several more changes took place between 2014 and now, especially with the death of Ed Gagliardi on May 11, 2014, and the death of Ian McDonald on February 9, 2022. The current band lineup includes only Mick Jones of the original band members. The rest of the current lineup includes Kelly Hansen as lead vocals, Jeff Pilson on bass, Michael Bluestein on keyboards, Bruce Watson and Luis Maldonado on rhythm and lead guitars, and Chris Frazier on drums.

Inspiring a New Generation of Rockers

Foreigner’s distinct sound, characterized by powerful guitar riffs, infectious melodies, and passionate lyrics, has left an enduring mark on the genre. Many contemporary rock bands draw inspiration from Foreigner’s ability to create timeless anthems with memorable hooks to create impactful rock music.

The themes of love, longing, and personal experiences explored in their songs are universal, speaking to the emotions and experiences of listeners across generations. The band’s anthems have found their way into popular culture through films, TV shows, and commercials, introducing their music to new audiences and keeping it relevant.

Moreover, Foreigner’s longevity and enduring popularity demonstrate the timelessness of their music. The band keeps its songs alive and relevant by maintaining a solid presence through live performances and collaborations. This longevity has allowed them to bridge the gap between generations, encouraging younger artists to explore and embrace the rich rock heritage that Foreigner represents.

Catch them live on August 18th at the USANA Amphitheatre for your last chance to see them perform. Enter to win tickets!

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